I struggle with this sometimes. I find myself over-explaining and wanting others to know exactly why something is meaningful to me. I, then, realize later that I should have let it go and welcome different perspectives. And therein lies the gift between Artist and viewer — allowing space for people to be affected in a way that best serves them.
Creatives are like parents and letting go can be hard, but it’s necessary.
Steven Pressfield compares a work-in-progress to an unborn fetus and warns against talking about your work prematurely while it’s still being developed. I can relate to how that can sabotage work before it’s at least close to completion. But, when it’s done, it’s done.
At some point, you gotta let your baby go. You can’t protect her forever.
Should a creative person explain or defend their work?
That’s a question I asked myself, recently, as I was explaining a piece to a friend. And, here’s how I’ve been thinking about it lately — If I make perfect interpretation my main objective, I’m going to end up needlessly disappointed, and too often, it ends up being a selfish pursuit.
I can explain something just so, and convey an understandable message, but personal meaning is relative. Explanations have limitations and putting up our defenses create even more.
Explaining has its place, but the more a creative defends their work and viewpoint, the more they rob viewers of their own meaning. If everyone experiences the same meaning as you, then what’s the point? You might as well keep your art hung on your own walls. You might as well write your poems in a private journal.
Creating goes beyond self-expression and it serves a greater purpose than self-validation. The greater accomplishment is connecting with something beyond ourselves. That’s hard to accurately predict. I don’t get to decide what matters to you. I don’t get to give you personal meaning